The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

There are big things I want to achieve in life. Travel the world, publish a book before I turn 40, get my master's degree or go into teaching, own a house and a Tesla, volunteer with wild animals, see my kids grow up happy and successful...

There are medium things I want to get done.  Earn an American Citizenship, get braces, get fit, learn to drive on the freeway...

And there are small things I want to experience.  Go swimming again, grow my hair out, spend an entire day reading in bed...

Sometimes it seems like life is just too short to do all the things we need and desire.  But I keep trying.

Freeway driving is one of my major pet peeve.  I am not ashamed to admit that I am scared to go on the freeway.  I am afraid of high speeds the way I am afraid of heights - it's a physical, overwhelming feeling that renders me unable to think clearly.  I don't have a problem when someone else is driving but when I am behind the wheel I just...freeze.  I hate the sense that I am not in control, that it is too much to handle.  

Now, I have to point out that I am in fact a good driver.  I learned to drive when I was 30 - I am European and I just didn't need to know how to drive before I moved to the States.  You see, we have this thing called public transport in Europe.  Anyway, it took me a few months but I passed my driving test the first time and I have been doing pretty well since.  I enjoy driving.  I am a defensive driver and I like to give way to people, but I also like cruising and being zippy and getting lost with my car...on the surface streets, that is.  One can say that I specialize in performing very well in high suburban traffic.  

But when it comes to the open road...I can probably do city driving, though San Francisco is not a great place to start with its one way streets, stressed drivers, congested intersections and steep hills.  But I am sure I can do it.  I can also do country roads. It's just the goddamn freeway that's so intimidating. I had done it two or three times, and was always left shaken, upset, and unwilling to try again.

It probably has something to do with the fact that when I first started driving I was already pregnant with Johnny.  I was overly cautious and protective, so I avoided the freeway, and this continued throughout my second pregnancy.  It was stressful enough to load two small kids in the back of the car and go to doctors' appointments and run chores.  And really, it all came down to the lack of practice.  I didn't go on the freeway because I didn't have any experience, and I didn't practice to get this experience because I was afraid to go on the freeway.

Until yesterday.  

I have gotten increasingly tired of feeling scared.  I was sick of lacking the ability to get somewhere fast, or having to ask John to give me a ride.  I am an emancipated woman, and I need the freedom to do things by myself...and I was done with this superstitious fear that something terrible will happen to me on the freeway.  Reason and ambition finally prevailed and after a brunch with a friend - who has four kids of her own and certainly drives on the freeway - I decided to give it another try.

I can drive on the freeway, that was sure enough.  I just didn't like or want to.  But once I have set my mind on changing that, I felt ready.  

I took the 280 home from Mountain View and it was fine.  I didn't die.  I didn't crash.  I didn't swerve out of my lane or panic during merging.  I just did it and there was a lot of adrenaline but no fear.

I'm telling you all this because we all have insecurities and things we don't like in life, but we are also braver than we think and we can conquer those if we decide to. I am not looking forward to driving on the freeway in rush hour but now at least I know I can.

The bad thing happened after I came home, grinning like an idiot, telling John that he is no longer entitled to tease me and joke that I am a scaredy cat.  Julian fell head-on into the kitchen cabinet corner and we had to rush to urgent care and make sure he doesn't have a concussion....


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